Welcome to another installment of “Completely Amateur Wine Tasting with Claire.” Today, we are going to review and discuss these boxes of wine that the nice people at Black Box Wines sent my way.
I should admit that I’m a container snob, with a bias towards glass and things that remind me of chemistry glassware. I really like packaging and –- though I could not defend the logic behind this bias -– I have always kind of looked down my nose at wine that didn't come in a glass bottle. But the sad truth is you could pour it into a decanter before serving it to me and probably convince me that it was a pretty decent bottle. I wouldn't believe that it was a $50 bottle, but you could make me believe it was around $20.
Anyway, boxed wine doesn't have the best reputation, but my journey through these two boxes taught me that wine in a box has its advantages.
Here are the lessons I learned:
1. Boxes are easier to store than bottles
You can't stack a bottle, because physics. Well OK, you can if you have these things, but without outside assistance, bottles will not stack. Also, there is a limit to how high you can stack your bottle pyramid; boxes can stack almost infinitely. You could build a Great Wall of Boxed Wine if you so chose.
A box of wine won't look so great in your Crate & Barrel wine rack, but I’m not suggesting you replace all of your bottles with boxes. I’m suggesting that you save your wine rack for the bottles that are worthy of it and supplement your expertly curated rack with some of these easily stacked and stored boxes.
2. The price is nice
These 3-liter boxes are $24.99, which is around $6.25 per “bottle.” Not as cheap as the two or three-buck Chuck, but that stuff is suspiciously cheap.
Not only does the price make this a great everyday option, but if you're going to throw a party -- and the guest list is comprised mostly of beer drinkers or people like me -- there's no reason to break out "the good stuff" as it's unlikely that it will get properly appreciated in a party setting. In my experience -- with my friends -- people are going to bring a six pack of Newcastle or Tecate and just drink that anyway. I have one friend who brings his own wine (Penguin) and drinks it directly from the bottle.
I'm not going to share my choice bottles (of wine or beer) with these people.
If you have qualms about plunking a box down and telling people to "have at it," you can up the level of sophistication by quietly dispensing the wine into a decanter. Everyone loves a decanter.
3. It lasts longer.
I mean, I don't really get the whole concept of "leftover wine" but I guess if I did find myself in that situation I would want a container that kept my wine drinkable for as long as possible. Black Box claims that their "bag-in-the-box" design keeps their wine delicious for four weeks, but I left some sitting around for five (just to see what would happen) and I am happy to report that it is still delicious.
4. I love a spout
That's pretty much it. I just like spouts.
5. Convenient for cooking
You know when you're cooking, and the recipe calls for 3/4 a cup of wine so you open a bottle, pour out the needed amount, and then have to drink that whole bottle? That's usually no problem, but what if you've already had three old fashioneds and you husband "isn't drinking tonight" because he wants to get an age group placement in yet ANOTHER 5K in the morning?
That puts you in quite a pickle, my friend.
The beauty of the box is that you can dispense what you need from the fun little spout and then not worry about the rest going to waste because you have FOUR WEEKS to finish the box. This not only prevents the wasting of wine, but the mixing of wine with all those old fashioneds you already drank.
6. I can't break it.
I'm sure I could if I stabbed it with a knife or something, but at least I'm not going to unintentionally break this by dropping the box (something that I did twice during this review process).
These advantages apply to pretty much all boxed wine in general, but I didn't get to drink all boxed wine. I only drank Black Box boxed wine. (Note: Hey wine people, if you want me to drink your wine, boxed or otherwise, I'll do it!)
Black Box sent me two varieties (varietals?): a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sauvignon blanc.
The Cabernet Sauvignon
I had a cold when I first opened this box, so at first all I could taste was "grapes" and "ethanol." Honestly, that would have been enough for me, but once my sinuses cleared up and I could smell again, I found that I could taste cherry juice, coffee, chocolate and ethanol. I would say that it was "dry" but I read somewhere recently that that's a dumb thing to say, since "dry" means "having no residual sugars," so saying that this Cab was "dry" would make me sound like a redundant asshole.
So I'll just say that it did not taste sweet, but was still very drinkable, if a little bit thin.
I think this would make a great base for a mulled wine, due to the chocolatey, coffee flavors, but I also think it's pretty good when consumed thusly:
The Sauvignon blanc:
This one tasted grassy, lemony, kind of floral and a little bit like white grape juice (but much less sweet). I found it to be very drinkable and refreshing. It's actually exactly what I look for in a bath tub wine. Nice and crisp. You want crisp when you're in a hot bath.
This would also be a good base for a summer sangria; it's sour enough that adding all that fruit won't render it super cloying.
So good job, guys.
Black Box has quite a variety to choose from, including one called "Red Elegance" which sounds very sexy, to be honest.
While these wines may not be the best choice for elegant entertaining, they are a great portable and practical option for parties, tailgates, sangria making, and bath tub drinking. Since drinking in the bath tub is basically my entire brand, I give Black Box wines my seal of approval.
Tweet me if you want to send me wine or if you just want to chat. @clairelizzie